By Jack Hille ‘21
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the coronavirus vaccine, and one of the questions being asked is, “Should schools require all students and teachers to be vaccinated?” Personally, I don’t feel that it would be right for schools to mandate that everyone receive the vaccine. According to the Pfizer website, “The Pfizer-BioTech COVID-19 vaccine has not been approved or licensed by the FDA, but has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA …” While the vaccine has been tested thoroughly and seemingly there are a relatively small amount of adverse reactions since the various vaccines have been released, it is still hard to tell whether or not they could have any long term effects. Kara Gavin, PhD MPH, a researcher at the University of Michigan makes the argument that the longest anybody has had either of the two current vaccines in their system is eight months. She then goes on to explain how the only way we will be able to tell of long-term side effects is with time and further research. Normally, it takes many years for a vaccine to be developed and be distributed on a commercial basis. For comparison, it took twelve years to start distributing a Hepatitis B vaccine from the beginning of research and other diseases such as Influenza have taken decades to complete research.
Essentially, we have never seen a scientific advancement like this in all of human history and if students and parents do not feel comfortable with the vaccine, they should be able to make their own decision on receiving it. When looking at the path that other vaccines have taken we are still in the early experimental phases of the COVID vaccine. Plus, the testing and trials that have been performed on the virus have all mostly been performed on adults who are not only at a higher risk of contracting the virus, but also have a higher chance of coming down with more severe symptoms. According to Dr. Cauwels from Sanford Health, since children do not have as high of a risk of catching the disease, pharmaceutical companies held off on testing children at first to try and get the vaccine out quickly.
While the production of an effective vaccine this quickly is one of the biggest scientific feats in history, it is still not a reason to force students to get the vaccine. For some individuals, there are just too many unknowns with this unprecedented vaccine to feel comfortable receiving it. Even if the school does mandate that students be vaccinated how would they enforce it? The only way would be to somehow punish non complying students and families, which does not seem right considering that they are just doing what they think is best for their health. It should not be the school’s responsibility to mandate vaccination. The students and their parents should be able to do their own research and make their own decision on whether or not they would like to receive the vaccine.